Sonia Farmer engages with the book as a creative object, cultural artifact, and educational tool, centralizing text and narrative in her inter-disciplinary practice. As a writer, she is interested in using her writing to disrupt and investigate existing narratives as a way to question their inherent power structures and expose alternative marginalized voices. As an artist, she uses bookbinding, papermaking, letterpress printing, and digital projects to build platforms and homes for these narratives. And as a publisher of a small independent press, Poinciana Paper Press, Sonia works with writers and artists using multiple forms of publishing to advance the diversity of narratives in Caribbean literature. In the classroom setting, she gives her students a major tool to honor their stories as valid protagonists in a region that has historically privileged the voice of the visitor in forming Caribbean identity and space.
She is the founder of Poinciana Paper Press which works with writers and artists using multiple forms of publishing to advance the diversity of narratives in Caribbean literature. One of these ongoing projects is The Craftsman Press Archive, a free digital archive of printing cuts and specimens from a historic printing press in Nassau that gives visibility to bygone spaces and institutions. She also curates Current Books exclusively for The Current: Baha Mar Gallery and Art Center, publishing limited-edition chapbooks and ephemera that promotes cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary collaboration in the realm of design using a variety of mediums and resources.
Her artwork has been exhibited internationally, regionally in the Caribbean, and locally in The Bahamas, including at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, The Current, Hillside House, Doongalik Studios, and the Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Gallery, where her piece Elect Ya Tings received an Honorable Mention in their 32nd Annual Art Competition and Exhibition. She has embarked on several residencies, including at the Fresh Milk art platform in Barbados, and at The Current: Baha Mar Gallery & Art Center.
Her artist books have received accolades, including the Holle Award for Excellence in Book Arts for A True & Exact History. These artist books and chapbooks can be found in various public and private collections and libraries, including the Dawn Davies Collection, The Baha Mar Art Collection, The Colleen Lewis Reading Room at Fresh Milk in Barbados, the University of Missouri Libraries, and in the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.
She is the author of Infidelities (Poinciana Paper Press, 2017) which was longlisted for the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and The Best Estimation in the World (Poinciana Paper Press, 2019). She has also self-published several chapbooks. Her poetry has won the 2011 Prize in the Small Axe Literary Competition and has appeared in various journals including PREE, tongues of the ocean, Small Axe, Poui, and The Caribbean Writer. She has read her work at various literary festivals including at the NGC Bocas Literary Festival in Trinidad and the Blue Flamingo Literary Festival at the University of The Bahamas.
As an Obermann Fellow of the Graduate Institute for Engagement and the Academy, education and collaboration are major components in Sonia’s outreach. In the classroom, she aims to break down the barriers between writer, publisher, and reader to help her students take complete ownership of their narratives. She has led classes and workshops in various international art spaces and institutions, as well as provides educational opportunities in book arts in The Bahamas through her studio space at Poinciana Paper Press.
She holds a BFA in Writing from Pratt Institute where she won the thesis award for an outstanding collection of poetry, and an MFA in Book Arts from the University of Iowa Center for the Book.
CV available upon request.
Contact Sonia at sonia [at] poincianapaperpress.com.